Gear Riding

Top 5 Safest Horse Riding Helmets on the Market

Jumping with a helmet
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Written by Natalie Gasper

Safety first. Helmet always.

When you get in the saddle, staying safe is critical. The best way to be safe is with the right helmet.

Most riding helmets today meet certain safety standards. One of the most common certifications is ASTM (though you’ll see others like SEI). MIPS technology is a sought-after safety feature because it better protects against rotational damage. Some brands that are well-known for their safe helmets include Charles Owen, Tipperary, One K, and Troxel.

Riding Helmets

Horseback riding, like many sports, has an element of risk. It’s important to wear a helmet every time you ride to protect your head in case of a fall.

Common Materials

Helmets used to consist of a plastic shell covered with velvet. Fortunately, the options have widely expanded since then. Some common materials these days include leather, velvet, hard plastic, and nylon webbing.

Helmet Sizing

For a helmet to work and keep your head protected, it has to fit properly. The best way to ensure the correct fit? Measure your head with a soft measuring tape and choose accordingly.

You can buy the safest helmet on the market, but if it doesn’t fit properly, it’s not going to protect your head.

Always take the time to find the right size and adjust the helmet to fit correctly.

Improper helmet fit

Improper helmet fit. The harness should be snug against the chin. The helmet should sit level on the head, just above the eyebrows. Photo Cred: Canva

What Makes a Helmet Safe?

The easiest answer? A helmet with an ASTM certification is guaranteed to be safe.

A helmet that fits your head properly and snugly will be safer than one that’s too small or too loose (even if all three options are ASTM certified).

Who regulates helmets for horseback riding?

Helmet safety is primarily regulated by the ASTM, or the American Society for Testing and Materials.

They use a combination of engineers, doctors, and physicists to make sure each riding helmet they certify will keep riders safe.

What standards have to be followed?

The ASTM doesn’t just regulate riding helmets. The standard of theirs that has to be met by helmet manufacturers for equestrians is ASTM F1163-15.

Should horseback riding helmets have MIPS?

MIPS, or Multi-Directional Impact Protection System, is another layer of protection for your brain against rotational motion during impact.

Because this type of damage is common during horse falls, choosing a helmet with MIPS is a safe bet.

How do you know when it is time to replace a helmet?

Even if you ride accident-free, replace your helmet every five years.

You should also replace your helmet after any accident where the helmet impacts the ground (or something equally hard, like a tree).

How can you tell if a helmet fits properly?

A properly-fitted riding helmet should be snug, with firm, even pressure around your entire head. There should be no specific pinch or pressure points, and the helmet should lock nicely against the back of your skull.

It should rest level on your head, covering your forehead and sitting about an inch above your eyebrows.

Horse riding with a helmet

Proper Helmet Fit (Photo Cred: Sisters Horsing Around)

Safest Riding Helmets

Category Product Price Point You’ll Love Them If:
Safest Eventing Helmet Tipperary Sportage $$ Multiple colors, excellent ventilation
Safest Dressage Helmet Charles Owen jR8 $$ Two styles (regular and round), microfiber suede
Safest MIPS Helmet One K MIPS CCS $$$ MIPS technology, ABS composite shell
Safest Kids Helmet Troxel Liberty $ Multiple colors, multiple safety certifications
Safest Trail/Western Helmet Troxel Intrepid $ Multiple colors, great ventilation

Tipperary Sportage Helmet

This lightweight helmet combines the best in safety and design.

tipperary helmet

Click to see it at Amazon

PROS:

  • Low-profile
  • Drop back shell (increased protection and snug fit)
  • Ventilation system
  • Flexible visor
  • Budget-friendly

CONS:

  • Can be tricky to fit if you’re between sizes (I suggest ordering the one above and below to see which fits better)

See it at Amazon

Charles Owen jR8

This helmet, which meets multiple safety standards, is sleek, elegant, and show-ring ready.

charles owen helmet

Click to see it at Amazon

PROS:

  • Low-profile
  • Washable headband
  • Microfiber finish is weather-resistant
  • Customers frequently say the fit is spot-on

CONS:

  • A little pricey (but worth every penny!)
  • Some users say the ventilation could be better

See it at Amazon

One K MIPS CCS

This top brand has incorporated MIPS technology for an added layer of protection. You’ll love the professional look and how lightweight it feels.

One K helmet

Click to see it at Amazon

PROS:

  • Washable, antimicrobial liner
  • Multiple vents for maximum airflow
  • Padded for extra comfort
  • Easy to clean

CONS:

  • It’s more expensive than some options (but cheaper than most helmets that include MIPS)

See it at Amazon

Troxel Liberty

This helmet fits both kids and adults. The low-profile, simple design makes it suitable for everything from lessons to trail riding.

troxel helmet

Click to see it at Amazon

PROS:

  • DialFit system (makes quick and precise adjustments a snap)
  • Multiple vents for airflow
  • Washable headliner
  • Good-sized visor
  • Budget-friendly

CONS:

  • Some customers have issues finding the right size (but once they get it right, the fit is perfect)

See it at Amazon

Troxel Intrepid

The matte finish and low-profile design make this helmet a great choice for Western riders and trail riding. Customers love the self-adjusting SureFit Pro feature, which changes with the motions of the rider for maximum comfort.

troxel helmet

Click to see it at Amazon

PROS:

  • Fun visor shape
  • Sleek, low-profile appearance
  • Lightweight
  • Great for all-day comfort
  • Flexible strap adjustment

CONS:

  • Some riders feel this helmet doesn’t fit well on different head shapes

See it at Amazon

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the safest horse riding helmet brand?

While any horse riding helmet certified by ASTM is safe, our pick is Charles Owen. Their helmets meet three international standards for safety, and many include MIPS.

Q: Do all One K helmets have MIPS?

Not all One K helmets have MIPS, but they do have a few options with MIPS, including a CCS with MIPS collection.

Q: Are One K helmets safe?

One K helmets go through three different tests for safety and are certified by both ASTM and SEI.

Q: Are hunt caps safe?

NO! Hunt caps are designed to be decorative and do not protect your head in the event of a fall.

If you’re going to wear something that looks like a helmet…why not wear a helmet that actually protects you?

Hunt cap

A hunt cap is NOT a helmet. Photo Cred: Canva

Parting Thoughts

Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to have a sleek and stylish helmet that’s certified to keep your head safe while riding. Make sure you measure before you buy to ensure the right (and most comfortable) fit.

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About the author

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Nancy loves retraining off the track Thoroughbreds and working with her dogs!